Amida’s day in a life (with a 3, 7-, 12- and 15-year-old)

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Written by Amida of Journey into Unschooling.

If you are following a traditional school calendar, then your year may look something like ours: fall semester, winter break, spring semester, summer break. And if you’re like me, then you hit fall semester running and start losing steam around December.

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In our family, December marks the countdown to birthday and holiday celebrations, crafting, gift making and shopping, with school falling to the bottom of the priority list.

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And then they hated math: My journey into unschooling

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Written by contributor Amida of Journey Into Unschooling

remember the first time I called myself an unschooler. I had just read John Holt’s Teach Your Own and was impressed with his vision of an alternative educational style in which children were encouraged to learn outside of school.

He saw children as scientists, eager and capable of exploring and experimenting with the world around them. Yes, I thought, that is exactly what I wanted my children to experience.

I had visions of them spending their days wandering through nature, collecting and identifying leaves, filling notepads with their amazingly original stories, learning math, engineering, civics, and science through a year-long project of designing and building a cardboard, solar-powered city.

It was learning at its fantastical best — fun, natural, and meaningful.
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Slow and steady :: On learning at your own pace

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Written by contributor Amida of Journey into Unschooling.

You know those high achieving homeschoolers who read by age three and recite the times tables backwards and forwards by 3rd grade? The ones with the perfect penmanship, excellent spelling, and an uncanny ability to build complex mechanical structures out of LEGO and K’nex without an instruction manual?

Most of us know someone with at least one or two of these characteristics, the super homeschoolers that are our community’s pride and joy and the ones who also privately put us to shame, especially during those moments of doubt when we compare them to our own, and wonder, are we doing something wrong?

My daughter was a perfectionist, easily frustrated by the slightest setback. At an early age, she showed proficiency in writing and drawing, filling our walls with copywork and colorful, detailed pictures.

By first grade, she could complete a perfect cartwheel, but could barely read with any fluency or know the place value of any given number.

What she was good at she repeated often and well. She loved stories and we read to her every single day. Whenever she wanted to write a word, we spelled it out for her, a letter at a time. Fascinated with science, we read her Ranger Rick magazines from cover to cover and watched Bill Nye often.

Occasionally, I’d ask her to add or subtract a few numbers and work through online reading programs, but never felt she completely understood the concepts.

Truth be told, I had more than my share of insecure moments when I worried about her academic level in comparison to other kids her age.

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4 back to school resolutions to keep in mind this year

Written by contributor Amida of Journey into Unschooling. She really did buy 24 tubes of glue sticks.

Love146 Round Home Library

For many of us, it is Back to School season, and with it, all the hopes, relief, and excitement of a fresh start. In a way, it is like the beginning of any cycle, be it the New Year, new house, or new job. You get a chance to do over and somehow get it right this time.

I was at the back-to-school section of a store the other day and overheard a mom exclaim, “I love new school supplies!” She was selecting designer notebooks, fashion folders, and neon paper with her daughter, who kept asking which items and designs she ought to pick.

There was a time when I had shun back-to-school sales. Who needed another dozen brand new #2 pencils? What was wrong with the clothes already in the closet? Was there really a need to plop down $200 for a new “school” wardrobe? But, there in that store, listening to the mom and daughter gush over their shopping, I admit, I too, felt some of their excitement.

There is nothing like a crisp, blank notebook — with its potential to be filled with new ideas and learning — to give you a sense of all that is to come. I watched the groups of parents and children browsing the aisle, each with a shopping list, no doubt sent to them by the teachers. “We need six pencils,” announced one Dad to his son. Those teachers are pros. They know exactly what is needed to be ready to go.

Homeschoolers are a different story. I hear lots of resolutions about how this year, it’s going to be different:

  • This year, we will take more field trips.
  • This year, we will learn hands-on.
  • This year, learning will be fun.

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On waiting for reading readiness

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Contributor Amida writes for Journey into Unschooling. She didn’t read fluently until she was seven but ended up with a degree in English.

One of the first goals I had in homeschooling was to teach my child to read. As a first-time homeschooler (and  mom), I was excited, ambitious, and determined. Before my son turned one, I had amassed an impressive collection of classic and bestseller children’s books.

I read Horton Hatches the Egg in the middle of the night while breastfeeding. I sang Mother Goose rhymes throughout the day and read Green Eggs and Ham and The Little Engine That Could every single night. I made a flannel board and decorated it with a colorful felt alphabet and coconut tree ala Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

My refrigerator was covered with magnetic letters and, at one point, I even had flashcards taped on all the furniture. It was, I admit, over the top and looking back, borderline obsessive. But my son did learn to read at three and by the time he hit kindergarten, he was already way beyond grade level.

By my second child, I had calmed down considerably. I did continue to read to him and introduced the same phonics lessons, but I was definitely not as compulsive as before. And I waited until he was five to start. Still, after some intense practice, he “caught up” one magical summer and was reading at grade level by the time he started school again in the fall.

Then my third child, a girl, came along.

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